Velma Williams, an African-American member of the Board, requested an immediate solution and argued that a new Cardozo could not be built soon.9  She advocated, as did many Blacks and some whites, the transfer of Central High to Blacks.  This pitted the proponents of this plan in direct opposition to the superintendent of schools, who wanted to assign the Cardozo students to the  Park View Elementary School beginning in September 1950.10

     Superintendent Hobart Corning viewed this as a temporary solution until money could be appropriated to build the new school.  He warned that transferring Central to the Colored School Division would jeopardize the construction of new high schools for Blacks.11  Most Blacks supported the position articulated by Velma Williams, while a large segment of the white community backed the solution favored by Dr. Corning. 

     The Board of Education held meetings on the proposal to transfer Central High School to the Colored School Division several times between September 6, 1949 and February 15, 1950.  Frustration and anger reverberated through the hearings and the letters received by the Board of Education.  Many people were going to be unhappy whatever decision the Board made.  The Board, fearing an avalanche of criticism, refused  to decide the issue in a timely manner.  It chose to move slowly so that all viewpoints could be heard and considered.

     The Consolidated Parent Group, the most outspoken of the groups who favored the transfer, wanted an immediate decision.  The Board's delaying tactics annoyed proponents but pleased those who opposed the transfers.  The opponents hoped the delays would allow them to generate even more opposition.  The Board's wavering accomplished little, except to polarize the populace even more. Some activists began to press the Board to look beyond making Central a school for Blacks to desegregating the schools. Those taking this aggressive new posture made it evident that they perceived the plan to make Central available for Blacks as an expedient and temporary measure to relieve overcrowding.  They wanted the Board of Education to eventually abolish the dual school system.

     Gardner Bishop, president of the Consolidated Parent Group, had sought the aid of Charles Hamilton Houston of the Howard University Law School during an attempt to equalize facilities for Browne Junior High School students in 1947, and he argued, with the support of Houston and other activists, that Central High School should be transferred for the use of Black students. Bishop contended that it should not matter whether the students attending Central and Cardozo High Schools were Black or white.12  Cardozo was overcrowded and Central was not.  Bishop said that if the Board of Education wanted to maintain dual schools, then Central High School should  be transferred without delay. Bishop viewed the transfer of Central as a pragmatic matter to provide better educational opportunities for Black children until the abolition of segregated schools. 


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November 2000